In the last year, I’ve become a fairly regular reader of Lawfare, the blog focused on national security law started a few years ago by Benjamin Wittes, Jack Goldsmith, and Robert Chesney. It’s a really terrific blog that offers in-depth coverage of national security law issues in nearly real-time with a host of informed and thoughtful contributors. When there’s a national security issue in the news, it’s a must-read.
Perhaps the greatest tribute to the success of Lawfare is today’s debut of a similar blog, Just Security. Whereas Lawfare tend to have a center or center-right ideological orientation, for the most part, Just Security‘s editorial board suggests that it will have a progressive/liberal/civil libertarian voice. (The blog is hosted by NYU Law.) Just Security has a lot of fantastic contributors, so definitely check it out. I am guest blogging there this week in a debate with Jennifer Granick about the Fourth Amendment implications of metadata surveillance, so you’ll even see some of me there this week.
Just as a matter of blog strategy, I’m particularly interested in Just Security‘s decision to start out with a large staff. According to the masthead, the blog has a Managing Editor, a Communications Director, and an Assistant Editor, as well as two Editor-in-Chiefs, ten Executive Editors, and eleven Founding Editors. My sense is that most successful group blogs have tended to arise more organically. Two or three people just register a URL and start blogging, and eventually a readership emerges. If the bloggers decide they would like to get more professional, they perhaps get some help from staff or students, but that’s optional. The VC is perhaps the extreme version of this: Eleven years in, we still have no staff, no formal positions, and no organization other than “blog when you want to on whatever you want,” with the general understanding that Eugene is sort of in charge. It will be interesting to see if Just Security‘s more top-down approach works right out of the gate. There are pros and cons of each approach, and I have no idea if one approach has a better success rate. But it will be interesting to watch.